Droid X HDMI Out – Taking full advantage for Netflix, Hulu Plus, Blockbuster & More

The Motorola Droid X

The Motorola Droid X has a huge feature not fully explained to most potential customers. Before purchasing a Droid X, the HDMI-out port was a huge selling point. Unfortunately I did not do enough research at the time since there are some pretty important limitations.

One would expect to be able to use the HDMI-out connection to watch movies and play games on a nice TV over the HDMI connection. I had dreams of watching Netflix and Hulu anywhere I wanted using this.

Unfortunately, out of the box the only thing you can do with the HDMI-out is look at your pictures in the built in Gallery app!

App to the Rescue – RealHDMI

Luckily, there is an option in the Android Market called RealHDMI. It is made specifically for the Droid X only, and enables the HDMI out to display whatever would normally be on your screen. So, this means you CAN play games and browse youtube just fine. RealHDMI brings a feature that should be enabled out of the box to you. It used to cost about $1.99, but now in early 2011 it appears to be around $4.00. Still probably worth it if this is something you plan to use a lot.

Droid X Hardware Limitation

Unfortunately, because of the internal hardware of the Droid X, it is impossible for the device to ever have both the HDMI-out video signal and the phone’s screen active and refreshing at the same time. This means you can have video and sound coming out of a TV, but your Droid X screen will be frozen. And, ultimately, this means that to navigate menus you have to sort of “guess” where the buttons would be when using the Droid X touchscreen. Thats fine for scrolling through pictures, but not for browsing multiple youtube clips.

Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Blockbuster Streaming

At the time of this writing in early 2011, Netflix and Hulu don’t have an Android app that allows you to stream video. The iOS devices like the iPhone do have this app, and it works well on them so I have high hopes. Both Netflix and Hulu have publicly announced that these apps will be available soon. Most reports seem to think this will be Quarter 1 of 2011.

The Blockbuster app is available now, but unfortunately also has severe limitations. Instead of having full unlimited access to stream content, you have to rent individual movies for a limited time at almost $4.00 a pop. Most importantly though, HDMI is completely disabled due to copyright restrictions–meaning your only choice is to watch the movie on the tiny screen. Certainly not worth it.

Conclusion and Other Options

I do have high hopes for the upcoming Netflix and Hulu Plus apps, but can only pray that they will work with HDMI out (even if the Real HDMI app workaround is necessary). Even if this is possible, it will be somewhat of a hassle because you’ll need to “guess” where buttons are when navigating on your frozen device’s screen.

With the rise of streaming services and the increasing gap in selection and quality vs. cable tv, I’ve stopped watching cable and have moved to choosing what I’d like to watch and streaming it. I had hoped the Droid X could be the device that would allow access to this , but it appears this is too early for all this functionality.

Instead, I am considering a separate streaming device such as a Boxee. As a side note, I can’t wait for the Android / Droid X apps to catch up to the iOS apps. I love the Droid X, but there are a few major apps that still need to make it over. Luckily Android is catching up quickly, and its also important to note that these i-Apps were not released until about mid 2010 and that you also can’t do video out to your TV with them.

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3 Responses

  1. Brendan Robert says:

    It works with the leaked Netflix app! I recommend setting up RealHDMI to switch on when the screen is placed down on its face, that way you can still browse your netflix queue and then place the phone down once the stream is open. Sound and video both go through, both look and sound like they do on the phone. And on my display, it scales out to the edges of the screen!

  2. slc says:

    The newest Netflix app does NOT work with Real HDMI, at least I can’t get it to. You can see the netflix screen when you are in the menus, however once a movie begins the HDMI output displays an error screen.

  3. The Netflix app works for me, as does RealHDMI. But they don’t work together well…10″ of a 32″ screen sucks!

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